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Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 6;5:11976. doi: 10.1038/srep11976.

Hybrid male sterility and genome-wide misexpression of male reproductive proteases.

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Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg 515 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3B 2E9.


Hybrid male sterility is a common barrier to gene flow between species. Previous studies have posited a link between misregulation of spermatogenesis genes in interspecies hybrids and sterility. However, in the absence of fully fertile control hybrids, it is impossible to differentiate between misregulation associated with sterility vs. fast male gene regulatory evolution. Here, we differentiate between these two possibilities using a D. pseudoobscura species pair that experiences unidirectional hybrid sterility. We identify genes uniquely misexpressed in sterile hybrid male reproductive tracts via RNA-seq. The sterile male hybrids had more misregulated and more over or under expressed genes relative to parental species than the fertile male hybrids. Proteases were the only gene ontology class overrepresented among uniquely misexpressed genes, with four located within a previously identified hybrid male sterility locus. This result highlights the potential role of a previously unexplored class of genes in interspecific hybrid male sterility and speciation.

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